Right to counsel

Legislation, Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents

Under Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-126(a)(2)(B), a parent is entitled to appointment of counsel in "Termination of parental rights pursuant to § 36-1-113."   It is unclear whether § 37-1-126 provides counsel for parents in termination of parental rights cases initiated by the state, as it references “termination of parental rights pursuant to § 36-1-113”, which is the Adoption Code. Terminations conducted pursuant to the Juvenile Code seemingly occur under Title 37 instead of Title 36.  Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-147(a), which addresses termination of parental rights in juvenile court, specifies that “The juvenile court shall be authorized to terminate the rights of a parent or guardian to a child … pursuant to the procedures set forth in title 36, chapter 1, part 1.”  However, it is unlikely that the Legislature would have intended to grant a right to appointed counsel for private terminations but not state-initiated terminations.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes